There is nothing quite like Utah Chamber Artists' Cathedral Collage concerts. The free events, which fill Salt Lake City's Cathedral of the Madeleine every year, take full advantage of the visual and sonic riches offered by the most beautiful performance space in town. Soloists, small ensembles, a chamber choir and orchestra present a continuous stream of music from various spots in the building as Chip Dance's artful lighting amplifies the expressive effect.
This year's edition had a pronounced choral flavor, as Barlow Bradford's singers are preparing repertoire to take on tour to Europe next summer. There also was a more ecclesiastical bent than usual; the reverent mood pervaded the secular selections as well as the liturgical ones.
The Utah Chamber Artists choir sang with a purity of tone that was remarkable even by Bradford's high standards. "Illumina Faciem Tuam," a sacred motet by Renaissance composer Carol Gesualdo, showed the singers to particularly striking effect. In "The Voices," by contemporary composer Dale Warland, they demonstrated how much power, as well as intimacy, 40-some voices can produce; cellist John Eckstein provided poetic accompaniment. Another of the evening's many highlights was Latvian composer Vytautas Miskinis' "Pater Noster," an unaccompanied Latin setting of the Lord's Prayer that included a moving crescendo of supplication.
Three instrumental soloists were featured this year, all of them playing Bach: violinist David Porter, pianist Jason Hardink and organist Craig Jorgensen. A 31-piece orchestra accompanied Hardink in the first movement from Bach's D Minor Concerto (originally written for harpsichord), proving that Bradford was willing to push his instrumentalists as hard as he pushed his singers. Hardink also accompanied Michael Chipman in two French songs that showcased the baritone's impressive range.
The evening even included some congregational singing as Bradford invited the audience to join in the familiar hymns "God of Our Fathers" and "Sine Nomine." Participation was rather timid on Monday, considering the number in attendance, but let's hope Bradford tries again next year the opportunity for musical civilians to sing with such an elite ensemble is too good to pass up.
Utah Chamber Artists
The annual Cathedral Collage concert.
With • Conductor Barlow Bradford, organist Craig Jorgensen, pianist Jason Hardink, violinist David Porter, baritone Michael Chipman and cellist John Eckstein.
When • Reviewed Monday, Sept. 16; repeats Tuesday, Sept. 17, at 8 p.m.
Where • Cathedral of the Madeleine, 331 E. South Temple, Salt Lake City.
Running time • 90 minutes, including intermission.
Tickets • Free, but the cathedral fills up fast.